Where does my recycling go?
We get asked this question a lot. Recycling is a global industry and with global markets in a state of flux, the end-markets for Yukon’s recycled materials are a hot topic.
Here’s a list of some of the items we process, and where they currently end up after you drop them off at Raven. As these end points depend on markets and demand, this list is subject to change.
All our materials are shipped out via backhaul, filling up trucks that would otherwise go south empty.
Paper & boxboard
All our paper and boxboard (single-layer cardboard, e.g. cereal boxes) is baled and shipped to recyclers in Alberta and British Columbia. Common end uses for recycled paper are boxboard, paper cover for drywall, egg cartons and insulation.
Cardboard is sent to Edmonton and then shipped to mills in the Pacific Northwest, mainly in Washington State. This material is pulped and reprocessed into new cardboard.
Unfortunately glass is a material that is hard to recycle given our location and capabilities. Due to its abrasive nature and high weight, as well as our distance from glass recycling markets, we are unable to ship all glass out of territory for recycling.
In the past, crushed glass has been used for sandblasting, construction aggregate, landscaping material, and for products made by local businesses. When there is no local market for crushed glass, it is used as landfill cover to compact materials and help prevent windblown litter.
Non-refundable glass – no longer accepted
Non-refundable glass includes all glass containers that did not hold a beverage when purchased. Pickle jars, pasta jars, sauce bottles, and oil bottles are all non-refundable glass containers. These items can be rinsed and placed in your regular garbage.
Crushing non-refundable glass in the hopes of finding a consistent local market for the material has diverted funds that could be better used for other recycling operations. Raven Recycling, Whitehorse Blue Bin Recycling, and P&M Recycling jointly notified the government that efficiencies could be increased by no longer collecting non-refundable glass.
Refundable Glass – still accepted
Refundable Glass will still be accepted at Raven Recycling. Any glass container that held a beverage can be brought into the Raven Recycling depot for a refund. This includes beer bottles, wine bottles, juice or coffee-to-go bottles, and milk/milk substitute bottles.
Domestic glass beer bottles (e.g. Budweiser, Canadian, Yukon Brewing and others) are shipped back to the brewers to be cleaned and refilled.
All other refundable glass, such as imported beer bottles and wine bottles will continue to be crushed at Raven. The deposit on refundable glass pays for collecting and processing the glass. Continuous efforts to find a local solution for glass recycling will be made, but as there is currently no local market for the crushed glass, it will continue to be used as landfill cover.
Recycling mixed plastics is complicated and difficult. The short answer is that where plastic ends up can change suddenly and frequently.
All our plastics are sent to a broker in the south. Depending on the markets, the broker will decide which plastics go where. Recycling markets fluctuate frequently and dramatically, and while one recycler may accept one type of plastic today, they might not accept that same plastic tomorrow, in which case the broker would have to find a different place for it to go.
In line with our mandate, Raven works hard to ensure the brokers we send our materials to have the highest possible environmental standards and that our materials are actually being recycled. We also regularly reassess where our plastics end up and consider whether there are better options for our materials here in the Yukon or elsewhere.
In general, the process for recycling plastics is as follows:
Rigid plastics such as #1 PET and #2 HDPE are washed and ground or pelletized before being sold as material to make new products. Mixed hard plastics are also sorted, cleaned and processed into grind/pellets.
Plastic bags and over wrap, primarily #4 LDPE, are highly recyclable and can be turned into a saleable material (pellets, flake, etc.).
The remainder of the material we send is mostly other flexible plastic packaging, which includes multilaminate packages, zippered and stand up pouches, crinkly packages and other co-extruded materials. These products are highly difficult to recycle, as they often consist of several materials fused together. Some of this material will be used in a pilot project run by Merlin Plastics (located in Greater Vancouver) who are continuing to explore ways to recycle these materials, and the remainder of unrecyclable products is recovered and produced into engineered fuel.
Wax cartons & Tetra paks
Tetra-Paks and wax cartons are shipped to our brokers in Alberta and sent to recyclers in North America and overseas to be pulped. Learn more about carton recycling here.
Metals are shipped to a broker in Vancouver. From there, they are sent to processors in North America or overseas, depending on markets and demand.
Aluminum is one of the most highly recyclable commodities we ship. Beverage cans are remade into aluminum cans right here in North America.
E-waste is collected in cages and shipped to Global Electric Electronic Recycling (GEEP) in Edmonton, AB.
Raven Recycling has had a close relationship with GEEP since 2009, and have visited their facility to ensure that our materials are being responsibly recycled. GEEP is registered with the Alberta Recycling Management Authority as an electronics processor.
Materials sent to GEEP are broken down into component parts. Plastics, metals, and glass are then shipped to various North American locations to be recycled or reused. The same goes for valuable materials such as copper, computer chips and precious metals.
Textiles are shipped south to a recycler in the Lower Mainland in BC. Items are sorted and either re-sold locally, recycled into filling for car seats, rags, etc., or shipped overseas to be re-sold in other markets.
Have a question about a specific material? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org!